Fall 2018 NRL Seed Program Proposals Selected

Fall 2018 NRL Seed Program Proposals Selected
Taylor Tracy, NRL

The third call for proposals for the MIT Nuclear Reactor Lab’s (NRL) Seed Fund Program closed on October 15th, 2018. The Seed Program was established in the fall of 2017 as a means to cultivate new research areas, to encourage MIT faculty collaboration with NRL staff, and to obtain initial data in support of pursuing externally funded research.

After a feasibility and merit review evaluating each proposal, the following proposals have been selected:

Radiography examination of MGEP fuel slug inner dimensions for high-quality neutronics benchmark

Dr. Kord Smith – (Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO) Professor of the Practice of Nuclear Science and Engineering, Nuclear Science and Engineering Department)

This proposal will use a neutron beam at the MIT Reactor for radiographic examinations of uranium fuel slugs used in the MIT graphite exponential pile (MGEP). This will be a non-destructive test to obtain the inner dimensions of the slugs. The research outcome will significantly benefit the MGEP's high-quality neutronics benchmarking by providing data for precise computational modeling of the subcritical graphite pile.

Structure Characterization of Weyl Semimetals TaP and NbP Using Neutron Diffraction

Dr. Mingda Li - (Assistant Professor, Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering)

This proposal will utilize the MIT Reactor’s neutron diffractometer to measure the crystal structures of single crystalline Weyl semimetals (WSMs) - TaP (tantalum phosphide) and NbP (niobium phosphide), specifically. A WSM is a novel condensed matter phase that carries emergent quasiparticles of chiral Weyl fermions. WSMs have practical applications in high-mobility microelectronics, giant magneto-thermopower, and thermoelectric energy conversion but the microscopic interaction mechanism between Weyl fermions and phonons is not yet fully understood. This research will lead to better understanding of WSMs and how they can be utilized for high-performance thermal applications. This work will obtain preliminary data for further investigations at Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) and the National Institute of Standard Technology (NIST).

Investigation of Uranium-Nitride Fuel for Advanced Reactors

Dr. Koroush Shirvan – (Assistant Professor, Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering)

This research will investigate uranium nitride (UN) fuel corrosion behavior in molten salt. The experimental study will be performed by utilizing a new, high-temperature, corrosion test facility established at NRL. The objective is to increase the technology readiness level of UN for advanced reactor applications – specifically the application of UN for Fluoride salt-cooled High Temperature Reactors.


The NRL Seed Program provides MIT faculty and research staff no-cost access to MIT Reactor’s irradiation facilities, post-irradiation evaluation (PIE) services, neutron activation analysis and gamma spectroscopy capabilities, and materials characterization instruments with NRL staff support. More information about the NRL Seed Program may be found here: http://nrl.mit.edu/research/seed-program